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Study Will Explore Deep Brain Stimulation as Treatment for Opioid Addiction

May 17, 2019

Four opioid-addicted individuals whose past courses of treatment options have not succeeded will participate in the initial phase of what is being called the first application of deep brain stimulation technology to the treatment of addiction.

The leader of the study is Ali Rezai, MD, a neurosurgeon and expert in use of brain implant technology who last year was appointed to lead the integrated clinical and research programs at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. Rezai, a past president of the College of Neurological Surgeons, has been a leader in the use of brain implants to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease and traumatic brain injury.

The latest study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), will begin with a two-year proof of concept phase involving the four patients with opioid addiction. A second phase is expected to include 16 patients in a randomized controlled trial.

The initial phase of the study is scheduled to begin next month.

Deep brain stimulation has been more widely tested in the mental health arena for patients with mood disorders, but Rezai believes the technology could be commonly used in addiction treatment in the future, the Williamson Daily News reported. According to the National Institutes of Health, eight clinical trials of deep brain stimulation for addiction have been registered, including six in China.

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